New insights at Farmer Led Innovation webinar

Recently, the Farmer Led Innovation Network (FLIN) and EURAKNOS, the “sister project” of EUREKA, hosted a webinar on Farmer Led Innovation, facilitated by Dr Lisa Williams van Dijk. FLIN is a group of organisations in the UK who advocate funding for farmer led research, development and innovation.

40 persons attended, ranging from researchers, industry representatives, journalists, facilitators, advisors, welfare organisations, farmers, vets and environmentalists, to project managers who joined the workshop from across Europe and even Australia.

The webinar show cased tools and tips for facilitating farmer led innovation, online and in the field. Keynote speaker was Russ Carrington, former general manager at the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA), a grass roots, farmer led movement practicing, advocating and certifying over 600 regenerative farmers in the UK. Russ highlighted his and the PFLA’s change journey which facilitated regenerative agriculture innovation, and the benefits of an online forum to compliment facilitation in the field, creating and reinforcing a culture which fosters an inclusive community of practice, building trust between members and enabling collaborative knowledge exchange.

The importance of facilitation – and new virtual opportunities
Kate Still (Farming Programme Delivery Manager at Soil Association), Dr Lisa Morgans (Head of Precision Livestock at Innovation for Agriculture) and Dr Jessica Stokes (facilitator on Hennovation and farm animal welfare and policy lecturer at RAU) shared facilitation experiences from the field. The process and qualities of facilitation were reflected upon, for example the importance of facilitator as the antenna of the group, continually assessing, monitoring and reflecting on where the community are on their individual and collective innovation journey; being flexible and adaptive to changing needs, energy and aspirations.

New virtual opportunities
An interactive session with participant’s highlighted new opportunities that have emerged for facilitating farmer led innovation in the era of COVID, such as the rise of virtual interactive farm tours, zoom webinars and meetings, flipped labs/classrooms, and the rise of the use of WhatsApp and podcasts to create communities of practice and share farmer led innovation.

The full webinar will soon be available online (on the FLIN youtube channel), along with a podcast discussion between Dr Jessica Stokes and Russ Carrington on the importance of facilitating farmer led innovation in addressing our multiple food, farming and societal challenges.

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